A Travellerspoint blog

Day 214 - 220 - Memoirs From A Strawberry Farm P2

sunny

Friday felt like a long day with hangovers galore & we didn’t finish till 1ish. Vix then chilled as I caught the Brisbane train from Beerburrum station. After a quick shop I hit the net at Peterpans & skyped Insure & Go to get our travel insurance extended, which took an hour waiting for a vital form to be emailed! More annoyingly I discovered a downside to public internet – admin restrictions – in this case no save option. Instead I had to walk to the other Peterpans in the city, fill out the form & email it back thus missing the 6pm train! I ended up having to catch the 7pm train to Caboolture & the 8pm train to the Glass House Mountains where I was kindly picked up by Padrick who gave me the leftovers of his dinner!

Saturday we worked hard on the festivals getting 60 + 30 crates filled. We caught the train to Caboolture & were picked up by Kev & Sylv. We all drove to Woolomba & were joined by Sam & Linda on the train to South Brisbane Station. The reason for this trip was to take part in the annual Riverfire Festival.
We fought our way through the massive crowd of people & numerous stalls snacking on cereal bars & $3 sausage sizzles (consisting of a slice of bread, a little onion & red sauce). We were treated to the Aussie equivalent of the Red Arrow display (fast jets formation flying, loop-the-loop, coloured jetstreams) which took me back to the wonderful days I saw similar events back in England with Mum & Dad as a child. An F15 tornado shot across the sky & we felt the intense heat as the the afterburn caught fire above us. The best part of the day occurred just after 7pm. There was a countdown then dramatic music blared up which synchronized with an incredible firework display. Now I’ve seen many displays in the past & recent years have been less impressed. However, what we saw that night was breathtaking.
The sky lit up in an explosion of colours & sound, rockets shooting into the air from the tops of tall buildings, barges on the river & even the bridges. The show lasted for a solid twenty minutes but could have gone on forever. Finally the night came to a close at 7.30pm & we fought our way through the crowd back to the train station where we waited an hour for the next tightly packed train. We got back to Uncle Kev’s pretty late & so had a brief meal before going to bed.

Sunday was easier than usual chaotic morning as Uncle Kev took care of breakfast & our pack up & dropped us at work. We began on some crappy lanes, taking 3hrs to pick 7-10 crates. With plenty of food & water we managed to triple the amount filling 30-40 crates, leaving the rest of the day to chill with our housemates.

Monday we got up at 7am as it was our day off. We spent it wisely chatting, chilling & reading & in the afternoon enjoyed lazing on Kings Beach with Amy & Padrick.

The next few days (Tuesday through to Friday) blended into one with the same routine of work & relaxation at the house not really even worth mentioning, though we had gotten to like the ease & security of it.

Posted by Eemail2004 02:01 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day 207 - 213 - Memoirs From A Strawberry Farm P1

sunny

Friday was the start of a difficult adjustment. Despite the decent sleep we got sharing a single mattress (Amy & Padrick also had one each) it was still difficult to get up at 5.30am, force down breakfast & organise ourselves with sandwiches & water for the day ahead. Forty minutes later Amy drove us to work where we collected our tags, grabbed our trolleys & wrestled them up the field to start picking.
Maybe it was the sleep, adequate food & water, that we were improving picking or only working till 11am, that we actually started to settle into & even enjoy ourselves. Whatever the reason we breezed through the day & were soon back at the house relaxing in our 'garden' until dark when viscious mozzis attacked us. Inside we got to know a young Irish couple Steven & Siobhan, two French guys Paul & William & crazy Coralie who had so much energy & enthusiasm we felt dizzy as she darted about.
We dashed back outside, hurriedly made our chicken pasta dinner & dashed back in again, scratching numerous bites.

Saturday, to beat the morning rush we got up at 5am, had breakfast & got our stuff together. By 6am we were on our way to work, kicking up clouds of dust on the now familiar route to the farm. Typically the glorious sunshine soon metamorphised into heavy rain which meant wrestling with fragile Bunnings ponchos that tore every time someone moved. Suffice to say the picking didn't last long. We had managed 30 baskets.
After chilling back at the house we were picked up by Kev & Sylv & driven to their house to celebrate my birthday a day early. It was nice as we relaxed, caught up with the rels & enjoyed Uncle Kev’s delicious toasties as we played pass the pigs. Later on we were joined by Sam & Linda & tucked into kebabs, jacket potatoes, salad, rice & chocolate cake before hitting the hay around 9pm.

Sunday despite being my birthday was still a 5am rise. Once fed & packed up we were dropped at the farm to start work 6am.
The day thankfully went quite quick as we competed against Amy & Padrick picking until Amy slipped & injured her ankle slowing them down.
We finished at midday & after a half hour recovery were picked up by Uncle Kev & taken to King’s Beach to celebrate my birthday in Calhoundra. As usual the weather was perfect (hot – but not too hot, breezy with clear blue skies). We enjoyed swimming & testing out Kev’s inflatable body board which was so light & aerodynamic I shot into shore & along the beach as a big wave hit me. The fun ended as the merciless sea claimed another sacrifice – Kev’s hat & sunglasses – not mine for a change!
At 5pm we were dropped back at the house & shared with our housemates’ $5.50 dominos pizzas & a box of $33 XXXX beer which finished off the day nicely.

Monday we regretted the previous night’s celebrations as we struggled to get up & ready for work. It was a tough day picking crap fields of fruit that refused to let go of the important calip – making it useless! A 2.30pm finish meant we could finally blitz the disgusting house with kitchens that had probably never seen bleach! Following a tasty meal of the highly original beans on toast all of us guys got chance to flex our minute muscles by helping Steven & Siobhan break into their accidentally locked room (Yale locks are evil) ingeniously catching the lock through the door frame using knives. The damage done to the frame was minimal but unfortunately the same could not be said for the cutlery!

Tuesday although we got up at 5am we had to dash around packing up & ate breakfast on the way. At 6.10am we were working on the top fields on the superior ‘festival’ fruit. I managed to pick one whole row & had the second stolen by an arrogant Korean picker who picked fast but like many seemed incapable of doing the job properly. Grabbing the big, easy fruit he left the hidden & rotten stuff for me to clean off. Two rows later it happened again but luckily there was enough big fruit for both of us.
We had finished by 12pm so stopped at Farmers Market & the adjoining Spar (yes they do have them in Oz & they are just as expensive) to stock up on cheap fruit & veg (bunch of bananas, 1kg carrots, 2kg apples, 1kg onions, potatoes & broccoli all for $12).
Back at the house we chilled with the gang, knocked a football around the field & tried to wash the permanently engrained fruit stains in the pathetic cold wash machine. The girls we left to gossip as us guys disappeared to play a lazy game of football (it was too hot to play competitively) for an hour & a half, spending as much time gingerly searching through the long grass as playing.

Wednesday we worked till 11ish in the ‘cam’ fruit field which was ok but not as fruitful (pardon the pun) as the previous day. Driving into the local town of Beerwah we fought over the free internet & saw that Adam from Lifestyle Trader had typically emailed me asking about us working that weekend – a bit difficult when we were 3 hours away & relied on either generous lifts or infrequent public transport.
In the evening we welcomed four new arrivals – 1 English, 1 French & 2 Germans.

Thursday was a long day at work, picking festivals & stressing about pay (Agron had told us we weren’t good enough afew days previously) especially as we had spent most of our English overdraft on rent! As a result poor Vix was sick from the heat & intense labor. The day got better however, after Agron commented on how much we were improving & that he was happy to let us continue.
This boost of confidence meant with a relaxed pace we had picked 30+ trays each by 1pm. We gave Agron $180 rent from our new wages & after doing a big shop prepared for the evening party at our place. At 7pm, an hour later than planned people started to turn up & by 7.30pm there were 30 drunk bodies strewn around the yard in their small groups drinking beer, tequila & goon & ingesting dubious kebabs, burgers & other bbq delights. The raucous party carried on till 2am but we were sensibly in bed way before.

Posted by Eemail2004 01:59 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day 206 - Escape To The Mountains

sunny 33 °C

Thursday having managed afew hours sleep we struggled to haul our rucksacks down the road to the Caboolture Services for our supposed 3am pick up. We killed time snacking at MacDonalds then finally set off crammed into the back of Amy's car at 4.30am. I unfortuhately left behind the one thing that would have made our journey easier - the UBD (roadmap book). As a result we missed our turn as we drove towards the Glass House Mountains & ended up close to Bribie! Had I known that Amy & her passenger Padrick had been late to pick us up because they had left Brisbane in the wrong direction (towards Sydney) I would have paid more attention to the road. Without this knowledge we took ages to get back to the road we wanted & then overshot our turn to the farm. Therefore we didn't get to Grey Farm in Elimbah (down numerous winding, dusty roads) till 6.30am, time for our first days work!
Wearily we prised ourselves from our car seats & stumbled over to the 'shed' where we waited with a handful of other equally bewildered souls for the supervisor. A ten minute wait & we had our electronic tags that would be used for our wage against the weight of strawberries picked. Grabbing
a parked trolley (a steel cage with shelf & seating area on three wheels, two on the sides & one on a jutting out bar) we used all over super-human strength to pull them along a very rocky dirt track. Careful not to run into our ankles too many times we followed the bizarre parade over a narrow bridge more than once losing control & them falling into the stream.
Finally arriving at the top field we were shown how to pick the strawberries, flick the fruit off the plant without disturbing the green calip ‘plug’ in the strawberry’s centre. The intact strawberries were put in one of the many big trays we had to load onto our trolleys. Flintstone-style we used our feet to wheel our way down designated aisles, the jutting out wheel in the next aisle, trying desperately to pick the fruit properly as we bent over & were savaged by tiny bugs. It was soon clear this was going to be very hard work!
By 10am lunch break we had managed a pathetic 10 trays of 2.5kgs of fruit each, but weren’t confident about how much was payable. Everyone enjoyed their sandwiches & water, apart from us as we’d left everything in the car. As such when we started back twenty minutes later dehydration set in, not helped by the hot, dusty conditions we faced. Thankfully we were finished by 2pm & looked forward to relaxing at our new home. An hour later, after Amy had managed to jumpstart her flat battery (having left her lights on) we followed the farmer Agron to the house, a good thirty minutes away. We travelled along a few dusty back roads then pulled into the ‘yard’, a huge acreage of green grassland surrounded by forest. From where we parked we passed a separate outdoor ‘kitchen’ unit & entered the wooden house. We greeted everyone sat in the small lounge,/kitchenette & walked down a wooden corridor past other bedrooms to our own. Only it wasn’t our own, as Agron, had happily taken our $90 each & neglected to tell us there weren’t enough rooms for everyone staying. Luckily Padrick & Amy let us share their room otherwise we would have been sleeping in the lounge in the midst of our new housemates’ party. It was clear we had substituted the four star luxury of Uncle Kev’s place for hell!

Posted by Eemail2004 00:38 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day 201 - 205 - Catchin Up With Family P7

sunny 30 °C

Saturday we spent at Morayfield shopping centre with Uncle Kev & Aunty Sylvia then in the evening were joined by Sam & Linda for a feast - BBQ, burgers, jackets & salad & icecream.

Sunday was our wedding anniversary but with little cash we were limited to a pleasant bike ride, playing with one of Uncle Kev's many 'toys' - adult push scooters (I nearly broke my leg coming down the hill on a new estate) & a romantic dinner in Caboolture. Sadly the romantic side of things was denied as the intended restaurant offer was finished & we were resorted a huge meal at the aptly-named Bellygod. The venue wasn't much, more a fast-food place, but the thai green curry & mongolian beef with noodles for only $23 total were devine!
The night ended at the house with a bottle of champagne!

Monday we cycled to Caboolture to use the library facilities then rang harvest hotline & Matt at Peterpans. No joy with either for work.

Tuesday we rang a guy called Shannon at Labour Solutions Australia (as per Matt's suggestion) & were asked to come in to sign up. We were excited as we made our way down the maze of backroads in Brisbane's Milton suburb, believing that we may finally have fruitpicking work. Sadly, we were premature as he only wanted to meet us & get us to fill out forms. In the afternoon we aled to the Regatta Ferry Terminal & enjoyed a ride on the Citycat to Queens Street Terminal where we met Matt at Peterpans & arranged between him & Shannon work at Elimbah in the Glass House Mountains. We caught a train back to Morayfield packed & watched t.v.

Wednesday we said goodbye to Kev & Sylv as they left for work then killed time cycling to Morayfield for equpment & provisions we might need. We got back mid afternoon to no news so rang Amy, the girl meant to be pickig us up & found she couldn't make it till late evening. We enjoyed cheap meals at the food court on Queens Street (meals were half price after 5.30pm) & I hit Peterpans whilst vix went to a modelling class. At 7pm we rang Amy & were told it would be a 3am pick up from the nearby Caboolture service station. We were starting to lose hope but stuck the night out.

Posted by Eemail2004 20:45 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day 194 - 200 - Catchin Up With Family P6

Saturday consisted of a 6.30am wake up, legging it to the station just in time for the train to Zillmere. Once there we caught a bus to Chermside & underestimated the size of the shopping centre as we had ten minutes to take the long walk the our booth. The day flew with both of us getting fully involved resulting in vix 1 sign up & me 9! We took the return trip to Morayfield 5ish & enjoyed the burgers, sausages & paint-flavoured onions on uncle Kev's new BBQ.

Sunday Kev gave me a lift to Chermside shopping centre where I set up the booth & 10am was accompanied by Bucko. It was a good job he was there as the day was boring apart from his hilarious behaviour & the 1 sign up & 2 know-it-alls (it wasn't hard for them to know more than us about trading). It sounded like Vicky had more of a fun day kayaking at Bribie in the muddy estuary!

Monday we caught a train to Strathpine, wandering round the westfield centre & charity shops then looking for work in the nearby industrial area dizzy in the 30 degree heat. A brief stint in the city & Vix caught the train home as I carried on to work. No sales.

Tuesday we chilled at the house & window shopped for netbooks & jobs in Morayfield shopping centre. Refilling our energy on a $7 ft long meatball Marinara Subway we walked back & I was driven to work.

Wednesday Vicky spent the day in Brisbane & me Caboolture buying pressies & at the library. When we were both back I got the phonecall i'd ben expecting - my termination from Great Breaks. I had been glad of the money but as well as disappointed was relieved as I knew it wasn't working out!

Thursday I spent the day on a mission to find work as well as to cheer myself up in Brisbane. Unfortunately whilst walking to the Valley from the city I got quite lost. Instead I met Vicky back in the city & caught a train with her to McWyrtes where we enjoyed a butter chcken curry for $8.50, big enough for both of us. We killed some time later on at the library & endured cheap night at Birdinumnums (attached to BUNK). It was nice be back in the backpacker environment but the one sausage, one slice of bread & one lettuce leaf didn't live up to Uncle Kev's gourmet delights. We enjoyed chatting to other backpackers as we swigged on our $10 2pt jug of beer & got a lift with Kev back 9ish.

Friday we got a lift to Brisbane to our group interview at To Evolve, the charity organisation Helene had introduced us to. We met the other candidates - a brit, 3 ozzies & a handful of Europeans & introduced ourseves. We were split into 2 groups & were asked to argue for/against chocolate. It was fun but nervewracking knowing we were being observed & judged based on our performance but we made it to the next stage that I find difficult for any job - how you are suitable & your strengths & weaknesses. We were soon ejected from the interview!
We ran afew errands then enjoyed the tropical paradise of South Bank, taking 5 minute dips (it was too cold & breezy for longer) then dozing till 4pm, when we caught a train back.

Posted by Eemail2004 19:49 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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